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Full text of "Syriac Historical Writing: A Survey of the Main Sources"

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SYBIAC HISTORICAL WRITING ; A SURVEY OF THE MAIN COURCES 

By t Sebastian Brock 
The Oriental Institute 
Oxford — England 

Although Syriac literature cannot boast any really outstanding historians, 
there do come down to us a number of pieces of historical writing in Syriac . 
mostly in the form of annalistic chronicles, which can provide valuable source 
material for the political , social and economic history of the Middle East 4n 
particular between the fourth and fourteenth centuries AD. Some of this 
material ( such as the chronicles of Michael and Abu'l Faraj ) is well known 
to modern historians, but much of it has not always received the attention it 
deserves, the texts having been published in many different , and sometimes 
out-of - the - way, places . 

In the present survey my aim has simply been to bring to-gether the main 
bibliographical information abcut these varied Syriac historical works in 
convesient form in the hope that this may porve a useful guide to the historian 
who is not necessarily well acquainted with Syriac studies as such . At the 
outset it should be stressed that no attempt is made to offer any new insights 
into this material or to analyse the sources afresh. 

The definition of what constitutes historical writing is not always 
obvious , and I have included only chronicles , ecclesiastical histories and 



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writings which can be described as essentially annalistic in character . 
Excluded are biographies , hagiography , monastic histories . historical notes 
in cclcphons and on fly-leaves (1) and works on chronology (such as that by 
Shem'en Shenolawaya ) ; the same applies to independent translations of 
Greek historical works ( such as those of Eusebius(2). Socrates and Theodoret) 
and to works translated from Syriac into Arabic no longer extant in their 
original language ( notably the Chronicle of Seert(3>) . Nor. finally , have I 
included lost ( as opposed to fragmentary ) works . 

The items are divided up into west and East Syrian sources , the former 
category including Melkite and Maronite , as well as Syrian Orthodox , 
authors . Within each category the works are arranged in approximate 
chronological order . The bibliographical information 14) given for each 



1 - This includes the fragmentary and perhaps contemporary account of the 

Arab invasion of Palestine on a fly-leaf of a sixth-century Gospel 
manuscript; for this text see Chronica Minora II (= CSCO 3/3, p. 74 ; 
Latin translation in CSCO 4/4, p. 60 ) . 

2 - For the use of Eusebius Chronicon by the Syriac chronicles see P . 

Keseling, ' Die Chronik des Eusebius in der syrischers Ueberlieferung ' , 
OC III. 1 (1927) , 23-48, 223- 41 ; HI. 2 (1927) , 33—56 . 

3 - PO 4, 5, 7, 13 ( indices in PO 5to part I, and in Melanges de l'Universite 

St Joseph 42 (1966) for part II, by J.M.Fiey). According to P. Nautin 
(Revue de l'histoire des religions 186 1974 ), 113—28) this work is to be 
identified as a translation of Isho dnah's Ecclesiastical History , otherwise 
lost; Fiey however, prefers to leave the question open (see Parole de l.Orient 
6/7 ( 1975/6) , 447—59 ) . 

4 - Abbreviations used are as follows : Barsaum = Igntius Ephrem Barsaum, 

Kitab al lu *lu' al mantiir fita'rih alulum wal adab as suriyaniya ( 2nd 
edition, Aleppo 1956, reprinted Baghdad 1976) ; Syriac translation by 
Philoxenus Yuhannon Dawlabani, Ktobo d-berulle bdire (Qamishilil967) ; I 
give first the pagination of the 1976 reprint of the Arabic and then, after a 
stoke, that of the Syriac translation . CSCO = Corpus Scriptorum: 



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source is confined to the more important items only ; for further details 
reference should be made to the standard bibliographical aids (5 J ( for the 
f^rlier literature the section on Syriac sources in F. Haase's Altchristliche 
Kirchengeschichte nach orientalischen Quellen ( Leipzig 1925 ) , pp. 6—24. 
will be found valuable > . 

WEST SYRIAN WRITERS 
' 1 > Chronicle of Edessa 

A Chalcedcnian with ' Nestorian ' leanings . writing in Edessa soon after 
540,(6)composed a chronological list of events covering the years 132 BC to AD 
540 . The majority of entries are very short, but among the longer ones is § 8, 
containing the famous account of a flood in Edessa in November 20 1, in which 
' the nave of the Church of the Christians * was badly damaged . The fact 
that some of the authors material seems to have been derived from the local 
archives makes his short chronicle particularly valuable . 

The text survives in Vat. syr. 163 of the seventh century . First edited by 
Assemani ( Bibliotheca Orientalis I , 388-417 ) , it has been reedited a 

-■ — — ■■■_. . ■ ■ __M~m 

number of times, notably by L. Hallier in Texte und Untersuchungen 9 . 1 



== Christianorum Orientalium ( Louvain ); the number in the complete series 
is given first, and then, after a stroke , that of the sub-series Scriptores 
Syri . OC = Oriens Christianus. OCP = Orientalia Christiana Periodica. 

PO = Patrologia Orientalis . ROC = Revue de I* Orinent Chretjen . 
7DMG = Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft . 

5 - That is t C, Moss, Catalogue of Syriac Printed Books and Related literature 

in the British Museum ( London 1962); I. Ortiz de Urbina, Patrologia 
Syriaca C Rome 1965 ( second edition ) ) ; S.P, Brock, ' Syriac Studies 
1960—1970 : a classified Bibliography*, Parole de l'Orient 4 (1973), 393-456. 

6 - So F. Haase , * Die Abfassungszeit der Edessenischen Chronik', OC II. 7/8 

(1918) , 88 — 96, against Hallier who argued for a date after 576 . 



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( 1892 , with an importnt introduction. German translation and commentary), 
and by I. Guidi in Chronica Minora I ( CSCO 1/1 . pp. 1-13 ; Latin translation 
in CSCO 2/2. pp. 1-14 ) . There is an English translation by B. H. Cowper in 
Journal of Sacred Literature 5 (1865 ). 28145. and a Russian one by N. 
Pigulevskaya in Palestinsky Sbornik 4 (67) (1959) . 79-96 
(2) Pseudo - Zacharias Rhetor , Ecclesiastical History 

The historical text which comes down to us in twelve books attributed to 
Zacharias of Mytilene is In fact a composite work of which only part 
represents a translation of the sixth-century writer Zacharias Rhetor; It 
consists of : 

(a) Books l-II : miscellaneous short works of very varied provenance .These 
include . in Book 1, Moshe of Inghilene's translation of the * History of 
Jof eph and Aseneth * . the acts of St Silvester of Rome . the letter of the 
Priest Lucian concerning the finding of the relics of St Stephen, Gamaliel 
and Nicodemus, and , in Book II. a version of the legend of the Seven 
Sleepers of Ephesus , documents on Eutyches and the second synod of 
Ephesus, and the letter of Proclus to the Armenians •. 

(b) Books 1II-VI: an abbridged translation of a lost Greek historical work 
by Zacharias ( explicitly named in III. 1 and elsewhere ) . Dionysius bar 
Salibi, in quoting the work, speaks of the author as 'Zacharia the Rhetor, 
bishop of Melitene ' ( read * Mytilene ' ) ; this Zacharias Rhetor may be 
the same person as Zacharias Scholasticus ( ' lawyer ' or ' advocate ' ) , 
the author of one of the Lives of Severus ( PO 2 ) who subsequently 
became bishop of Mytilene ; on the other hand it may be that Dionysius 
bar Salibi, by calling Zacharias Rhetor ' bishop of Mytilene * was himself 
confuting two different people ( so Kugener ) . 

Books Ill-Vl'are chiefly concerned with ecclesiastical matters , and cover 
the period 450 — 491 . 

(c) Books VII-XII : these were composed by an anonymous author who wao 
writing about 569 . This author , who on intternal evidence appears to 
have been a monk living in north Mesopotamia ( perhaps Amid ), was 



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also responsible for putting together the work as a whole ( thus 

including the translation and abbridgement of Zacharias Rhetor's Greek 

history ) . Book VII covers the reign of Anastasius, Book VIII that of 

Justin I, and IX-XII the reigns of Justinian and Justin II up to 569 . Of 

Books X and XII only fragments are preserved, while Book XI is entirely 

lost . In the course of these books the author translates several important 

Greek documents and letters whose originals are lost . 

The entier work is preserved in London Add. 17202 copied about AD 600, 

only three decades or so after the anonymous compiler had completed his 

work. In the manuscript it is entitled ' History of events which occurred in 

the world ' , but it is interesting to note that the running title ' Ecclesiastical 

(History > of Zachariah ' is already applied to parts of the work not b y 

Zacharias Rhetor . Excerpts of various parts are also to be found in some 

further mauscripts ( London Add. 12154 ( c. AD 800 ) , Vat. syr. 145 (9th 

cent. ? ), London Add. 14620 ( 9th cent. ) , and Add. 7190 ( 12th cent. ) ). 

The Syriac text has been edited in part or in whole by several different 
scholars, but of the two editions of the extant text in Add. 17202 that b y E. W. 
Brooks in CSCO 83-4/38-9 ( with Latin translation in CSCO 87-/41-2 lis 
much superior to that by J.P.N. Land in his Anecdota Syriaca III (1870) . 

There is a German translation by K. Ahfens and P. Kruger ( 1899) and an 
English one by F. J. Hamilton and E. W. Brooks ( also 1899) tf) neither is 
complete, books I-II being omitted. There is an important review of the two 
translations by M-A. Kugener in ROC 5 (1905) 201-14 , 461-80 .1.8) • 

(3) John of Ephesus , Eccl esiastical History 

John of Amid, appointed bishop of Ephesus and Asia in 542, wrote towards 



7 - Of the two translations the English is generally the more satisfactory ; 

both were of course made from Land's not always reliable edition . 

8 - On ZacKarias Rhetor see also E. Honigmann, ' Zacharias of Mytilene ' , 

in his Patristic Studies ( Studi e Testi 173; 1952 ), 194-204 . and K.Wegenasfs 
article in Pauly - Wissowa, Realenzyklopadie II. 9 (1967) , 2212—6. 



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the end o fhis life two works of the greatest Importance for sixth - century 
history , the Lives of the Eastern Saints ( written 565-8; published by Brooks 
with an English translation in PO 17-19 ) , and an Ecclesiastioal History in 
three parts. As an independent work only Part III ( written over the decade 
575-585 ) survives, virtually complete. The original work consisted of : 

Part I : this covered from the late first century BC to AD 449. although for 
the period from Casesar to Constantino it appears . 

Part II : this spanned the period 449 to 571. Some quite long extracts . 
to have contained nomore than lust a catalogue of emperors 
given in London Add. 14650 of AD 874/5: were printed by Land in Anecdota 
Syriaca II, 289-329; the variant readings of this manuscript are given by 
Chabot in his edition if the Zuqnin Chronicle ( see (11) . below) at the 
appropriate placesl9)( this chronicle, together with other later chronicles . 
made very extensive use of John's work) . Excerpts from various other 
manuscripts, deriving from this lost part, were published by Brooks in CSCO 
104/53, pp. 402 - 17(10). 

Part III : this final part , covering from 571 to at least 585, is preserved 
almost complete in a seventh - century manuscript , London Add. 14640 
(some of the gaps in the manuscript can be filled in from excerpts fiom Jonn's 
work in the later chroniclers ) . The Syriac text of this part was first edited 
by W. Cureton in 1853, and then reedited by Brooks in CSCO 105/54 (1935) 
There ezist English , German and Latin translation : the English by R. Payne 
smith (i860), who reorders the sequence of the chapters; The German J. M. 
Schonf elder (1862) , and the Latin b y E. W. Brooks in CSCO 106/55 (1936) . 
Of these that by Brooks is the most reliable . 

There are two old monographs in John's Ecclesiastical History , by J.P.N. 
Land (1856, in Dutch ), and by Diakonov ( 1908, in Russian ) 

9 - For translations, see under (ll) below . 

10- An excerpt on the building of Dara is it to be found appended to Gregory 
Abu'l Faraj's secular history in Oxford Hunt 52 : see E. A. W. Budge, The 
Chronography of Gregory Abu'l FaraJ Oxford 1932), II, f. 189 (text ) and 
pp. xxii-xxv ( English translation ) . 



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(4) Mclkite Clironicle 

A Chalcedonian chronicle, of Melkite origin, is preserved in Sinai syr. 10. 
fT. 42-53, of the eighth/ninth century . This covers, in very abbreviated form, 
Adam to the emperor Heraclius , and presumably the work was composed 
soon after Heraclius ' death (641) . Its chief interest lies in the sections on 
sixth - century ecclesiastical history and the fact that it shows an indirect 
relationship to the later Syrian Orthodox 846 Chronicle ( no (14) below ) . 

The txet was edited , with a French translation, introduction , notes and 
index , by A. de Halleux in Le Museon 91 (1978) , 5-44. In previous articles de 
Halleux had discussed 6 13 ( on Philoxenus ; in Orientalia Lovanensia 
Periodica 6/7 (1975/6 ). 253-66 ), S 14 (on Severus ; in Parole de I' Orient 6/7 
( 1975/6 ), 461 -77 ), and § f 17-23 ( on three sixth - century synods ; in 
A Tribute to A. Voobus (ed . R.H. Fischer ; Chicago 1977), 295-307) . 

(5) Maronite Chronicle 



One of the few early works in Syriac composed by a Maronite is a 
fragmentary chonicle covering the period from Alexander the Great to the 
time of composition, namely the mid 660s. The part covering the late fourth 
century to the late 650s. is entirely missing, but the final five pages deal with 
the war between ' AH and Mu * awiah in some detail . 

The chronicle survives in a single manuscript of hte eighth / ninth century, 
now divided between Leningrd and London ( Add. 17216, ff. 2-14) . The 
complete text was edited by Brooks in Chronica Minora II ( = CSCO 3/3 , 
pp. 4S-74 ; Latin translation ( by Chabot ) in CSCO 4/4, pp. 35- 57 ). There 
was an earlier partial edition partial edition ( of the final folios dealing with 
seventh - century history ) by T. Noldeke, with a German translation and 
commentary, in ZDMG 29 (1875), 82-98, and a partial French translation by 
F. Nau in ROC 4 (1899), 318-28 . 



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(6) Jacob of Edessa , Chronicle 

The Chronicle of the outstanding Syrian Orthodox scholar Jacob of 
Edessa ( died 708) is unfortunately lost apart from a fragment ( perhaps of 
an abbridgement ) in London Add. 14685, ff. 1-23, of the tenth/eleventh century, 
and excerpts in later chronicles ( notably Elia of Nisibis. Michael and Abu'l 
Faraj ). The work was designed as a continuation of Eusebius ' Chronicon , 
covering from the 20th year of Constantine ( 326) to ( according to Elia of 
Nisibis ) 692. What survives in Add. 14685 is the introductory section where 
Jacob discusses Eusebius * canon and the error of three years it contains in 
its calculation. Then, for the pre-Constantinian period, Jacob added some 
information absent from Eusebius on certain foreign dynasties. This is followed 
by Jacob's own ' canon ' in the form of a now damaged chronological table 
covering 326-630, the text breaking off with mention of Heraclius, Ardashir 
HI and Abu Bakr . 



The text in Add. 14685, togather with the excerpts from Jacob's Chronicle 
mede by Elia of Nisibis ( no (26) below, were printed by Brooks in Chronica 
Minora III (=CSCO 5/5, pp. 281-330 ; Latin translation in CSCO 6/6, pp. 197- 
258 ) . Previously he had edited the chronological canon with an English 
translation in ZDMG 53 (1899) 261-327, 550 ( cp 54 (1900) , 100-102) . 



(7) Historical notices for 712 - 716 

Ten short but not uninteresting notices concerning events and natural 
phenomena during the years 712-716 are to be found in London Add. 17193 , 
ff. 75-78, of AD 874, following the account of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch 
(John I's audience and discussion with an unnamed Emir. Both texts were 
edited together by F. Nau ( with a French translation ) in Journal Aslatique 
XI, 5 ( 1915 ) ; the historical notices will be found on pp. 253-6, 264-7 . 



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18) Chronicle to the year 724 

A short world chronicle, covering from Adam to AD 724, is preserved in 
London Add. 14643, ff. 1-57, of the eighth century . The entries are mostly brief 
and in some disorder towards the end . The work concludes with a list of Arab 
' Kings ', from Muhammad to Yezid II, giving the lengths of their reigns ; it 
was this list that led earlier European scholars to refer to the chronicle as the 
' Book of Caliphs ' ( Liber Calipharum ) . 

The chronicle was first edited by Land in his Anecdota Syriaca I, pp. 1-24 
103-22 ( 1862) . but this has been superseded by Brooks* edition in Chronica 
Minora II ( = CSCO 3/3 . pp. 77—156 ; Latin translation in CSCO 4/4 , 
pp. 61—119 ) . 

(9) Excerpts concerning AD 501/2, 505/6 and 763/4 

Berlin syr. 167 ( Sachau 215), ff. 66-69 , of AD 1481 contains three historical 
excerpts concerning the above-mentioned years . The first is introduced as 
having been taken from ' a book of ecclesiastical ( history) '; both it and the 
next entry concern Amid , while the thrird excerpt is on the misrul of Musa 
b. Mus'ab . 

The text was edited by Brooks in Chronica Minora III ( = CSCO 5/5 . pp. 
331-6; Latin translation in CSCO 6/6, pp, 259-64) . 

(10) Chronicle to the year 775 

An extremely brief chronicle, covering from Adam to 775, is to be found 
in London Add. 14683, ff. 93-102 of the tenth century . Most of the space is 
devoted to the pre-Christian period , and only two folios are left for the first 
to eighth centuries AD : here little more than a list of emperors and caliphs is 
given, though there are a few short historical entries for the eighth century . 

The work was edited by Brooks in Chronica Minora III ( = CSCO 5/5, pp. 
337-49; Latin translation in CSCO 6/6., pp. 265-75 ) . 



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(11) The Zuqnin Chronicle ( ' Pseudo - Dionyslus * ) 

An anonymous writer , who was very probably a monk of the monastery 
of Zuqnin f near Amid ) .. compiled an important world chronicle which was 
completed in 775 . J. S. Assemani supposed that the author was none other 
than the patriarch Dionysius of Tellmahre . but both Nau and Noldeke 
demonstrated that this could not be the case ; it is for this reason that the 
work is often referred to as the ' Pseudo - Dionysius Chronicle ' . Even though 
it cannot be the mostly lost chronicle of the patriarch Dionysius . it is never- 
theless a document of great significance in that it incorporates valuable 
earlier sources . 

The chronicle is preserved in a unique manuscript of the ninth century t 
now divided between two libraries , Vat .syr. 162 and London Add, 14665.fT.l-7. 
The manuscript lacks boih the ver y beginning and the end of the work # and 
we are thus deprived of knowledge of the compiler's name . The only complete 
edition is that by J. B. Chabot in CSCO 91/43 and 104/53 t 1927-33; for partia\ 
translations see below ) . 

The work consists of : 

(a) A short and very demaged preface , written in AG 1087 (= AD 775/P" 
in the reign of Mahdi son of * Abdallah, when Leon son of Constantinos ruled 
over the Greeks and Pepin over the Romans ' , it is addressed to Giwargis 
( George) chorepiscopus of Amid, the abbot Euthalius and various other 
members of the monastic community ( of Zuqnin ) . The text is printed in vol 
H of Chabot's CSCO edition , pp. 418-20 , 

(b) Creation to AD 313 ( chabot , vol. l t pp. 2-159 ) . The colophon states 
that the material is derived from Eusebius and some other sources ; the latter 
will include the Cave of Treasures , an apocryphal text about Alexander ;(11) 

11- On Alexander texts in Syriac see my note in Journal 9f Semitic Studios 
15 (1970) , 215—3 . 



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another about the Magi ( having connections with the Latin Opus Imperfectum 
in Matthaeum(12) , and a version of the legend of the Seven Sleepers of 
Ephebus (i;j) . I his section had been previously published separately by 
Tullberg ( 1851 ) . 

fc) AD 313—185 ( Chabot , vol. l, pp. 159—234 h The heading states that 
the souice is Socrates * Ecclesiastical History , but a number of further 
writings are used, such as another section on the Seven Sleepers and the 
Plerophoriae of John Rufus ( published by F. Nau in P6 8 ) . 

(d) AD 497-506/7 ( Chabot , vol. l t pp. 235-317 ) . This section represents 
an independent work addressed to an abbot Sergius ; on internal grounds it 
is likely that the auther wrote in Edessa not long after 507 . Entitled 4 A 
history of the times of affliction which occurred in Edessa, Amid and in the 
whole of Mesopotamia', it is a piece of local history of exceptional importance. 
Near the beginning of the work ( f. 66 of the manuscriptja later scribe, Elisha 
of Zuqnin , has supplied the text of a lost folio and at the end he asks for 
God's mercy en ' the priest Mar Isho ' the stylite from the monastery of Zuqnin 
that Isho * (Joshua ) the stylite was the author of this part of the chronicle , 
and in this many scholars have followed him; it is much more likely , however, 
that this Isho, was either the compiler of the work as a whole or ( more 
probably ) its original scribe. 

Because of its historical importance this section has been separately edited 
a number of times, in 1876 by P. Martin ( with French translation ) f in 1882 
by W. Wright ( with English translation ), and in 1959 by the late Metropolitan 
Yuhannon Dawlabani ( Mardin ) . There is a Russian translation by N. V, 
Pigulevskaya in Mesopotaima na rubezhe V-VI vv. ( Moscow / Leningrad 
1940 ) , 130—70(14). 

12- See U. Monneret de Villard, Le Leggende orientali sui Magi evangelici 
( Studi e Testi 163; 1952) . 

13- For the various Syriac texts on this subject see A. Allgeier in OC II. 4-8 
( 1915 —18 ) . 

14- Among the secondary studies the following might be noted : H. Gelzer , 
'Josua Stylites und die damaligen kirchlichen Parteien des Ostens ' — 



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(e) AD 489-578-' ( Chabot , vol. II. pp. 2-145 ). This section very largely 
based on the otherwise lost Part II of John of Ephesus ' Ecclesiastical History ; 
it also includes Simeon of Beth Arsham's letter on the Himyarite martyrs . 

(f) AD 587-775 (Chabot , vol II ,pp. 145-399). At the beginning the author 
states that he is writing in AH 158 = AG 1086 ( i.e. AD 775) . and complains 
of lack of sources for this period . The entries for 587 to 713 are very brief , 
but for the rest of the eighth century, up to 775. the narrative becomes 
increasingly fuller, especially for the early Abbasid period. This section , 
which contains much important information about economic conditions of the 
time, was edited separately, with a French translation and Index, by Chabot 
in 1895 under the ( misleading) title Chronique de Denys de Tell-Mahre ; 
quatrieme partie ; it should be noted that in this earlier edition Chabot did 
not yet know of Add. 14665 ff. 1-7, which continue on from the end of Vat syr. 
162 : these leaves accordingly are only to be found in the CSCO edition(15). 

Although it is the normal practice of the CSCO to provide translations . 
Chabot never lived to complets one for this Chronicle, and so only volume I 
of the Syriac text has an accompanying Latin translation ( by Chabot, CSCO 
121/66; 1949 ) ; this covers sections (b) to (d) above . Of the various partial 
translations mentioned earlier only Chabot's French one covers material in 
volume II of the Syriac text ( our section (f ) . but without the seven London 
folios at the end ); thus the important section (e). covering the sixth century 
and deriving mostly from John of Ephesus. is not yet provided with any 
complete translation. There are , however, some quite extensive excerpts 
given with French translation by F. Nau in ROC 2 (1897). 41-68. and a German 

^ Byzantinische Zeiteschrift 1 (1892) , 34 — 49; E. Merten, *De bello Perslco 
ab Anastasio geso , in Commentations Philologae Ienense* VII. 2.3 (1906 ); 
and F. Haase. 'Die Chronik des Josua Stylites', OC II.9 (1920) ; 62—73. 

15- There is a discussion of the order of ff. 169 — 173 of Vat. syr. 162 and of 
the London folios in E. Tisserant, Codex Zuqninensis Rescriptus ( Studi 
e Testi 23; 1911), pp. x-xv ( the manuscript is a palimpsest., with texts 
from the Septuagint as underwriting) . 



13 



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paraphrase of vol. II. pp. 54—69 , 111-2 , is to be found in N. pigulewskaja . 
Byzanz auf den Wegen nach Indien ( Berlin 1969), pp. 325-35fl6>. 

(12) Chronicle to the year 813 

Of some interest for the Abbasid period is a short anonymous chronicle 
preserved in London Add. 14642, n\36— 39, of the tenth/eleventh century. In 
its extant form this work covers AD 775 to 813; the manuscript, however, is 
badly damaged and has lost both beginning and end, with the consequence 
that the full extent of the chronicle and its approximate date of composition 
are both unknown, although the date of the manuscript itself provides a 
terminus ante quern for the latter . 

The text was edited by Brooks in Chronica Minora III (= CSCO 5/5 , pp . 
243-60; Latin translation in CSCO 6/6, pp. 183-98) . Earlier Brooks had published 
the text with an English translation in ZADG 54 (1900), 195—230 . 

(13) Chronicle to the year 819 

_. tt-j— — - -- 

A short chronicle, covering from Christ to AD 819, was discovered in 1911 
by Ephrem Barsaum ( later to become Syrian Orthodox patriarch ) in a ninth 
century mansucript at Basabrina ( Tur Abdin). According to a marginal note 
the work had been copied by a certain Severus for his uncle David, bishop of 
Harran ( consecrated between 846 and 873) . About half the work is given over 
to the seventh and eighth centuries ( a later hand has added an entry on a 
drought in 1094/5 ) . 

The work was edited by Barsaum in CSCO 81/36, pp. 3-22, with a Latin 

translation in CSCO 109/56, pp. 1-le ( by Chabot ) . 

16- On this chronicle see also F. Haase, ' Untersuchungen zur Chronik des 
Pseudo-Dionysius*, OC II.6 (1916) 65—90, 240—70; N. V. Pigulevskaja, 
Theophanes' Chronographia and the Syriac Chronicle ', Jahrbuch der 
osterreichischen byzantinischen Gesellschaft 1q (1967) , 50 * 60 ( cp also her 
article (in Russian ) in Palestinskij Sbornik 19 (82) (1969) , 118—26 



nr 1 4 



(14) Chronicle to the year 846(17) 

Another short chronicle, this time covering from creation to AD 846/7 . is 
preserved in London Add. 14642, ff. 1-36 . of the tenth century (18* the beginning 
of the work is lost and there are some lacunae elsewhere too . Prominent 
among its sources are an antecedent of the Melkite chronicle ( no (4) above ) 
and the Syrian Orthodox Chronicle to 819. In his edition CSCO Brooks (19) 
concluded from the several mentions of the monastery of Qartmin ( Tur Abdin) 
that the chronicle had been written there , but as Barsaum later pointed out 
in his edition of the Chronicle to 819, such a provenance would be more 
suitable for the latter chronicle which served as a source for such entries to 
the 846 chronicle ; even this , however, is far from certain. 

The text was edited by Brooks in Chronica Minora II ( =CSCO 3/3, pp. 
157—238; Latin translation ( by Chabot in CSCO 4/4, pp. 121—80). Brooks had 
previously edited the part covering AD 574-846, together with an English 
translation , in ZDMG 51 ( 1897), 569 — 88, and Nau had published the section 
(ff. 9-10) on St Peter and St Paul t with French translation, in ROC 1 (1899) , 
396 — 405 . 

(15) Dionysius of Tellmahre • Ecclesiastical History 

The Syrian Orthodox patriarch Dionysius ( 818*45 ) wrote an Ecclesiastical 
History covering the years AD 582-842 at the request of John, bishop of Dara, 
but unfortunately the work as a whole does not survive , and only a few 
fragments come dcwn to ur> . One short fragment , concerning * the falling 

17- Owing to the links between the 819 and 846 chronicles 1 take the 846 
chronicle before Dionysius, who strictly should come first . 

18- Although now bound up together with the 813 chronicle ( no (12) above) f 
originally these two chronicles come from two different manuscripts . 

19- In ZDMG 51 (1897) , p. 570 f he had plausibly supposed that Harran was its 
place of composition. 



15 V\Y 



away from the faith of Probus and abbot Iuhannon in the time of Peter , 
patriarch of Antioch ' ( 581—91 ), is to be found in Vat .syr. 144, on the basis 
of which it was published by Brooks in the second volume of his edition of 
Pseudo - Zacharias Rhetor ( CSCO 84/39 , pp. 219—24; Latin translation in 
CSCO 88/42, pp. 149 — 154 ) . Much longer excerpts are incorporated into the 
later chronicles of Michael , the anonymous to 1234, and Gregory Abul Faraj; 
Michael includes both Dicnysius' interesting prologue and his ending ( Chron- 
X. 20 and XII. 21 ) . A survey of materials from Dionysius in these three 
chronicles is given by R. Abramowski, Dionysius von Tellmahre : Jakobitischer 
Patriarch von 818—845 Leipzig 1940 ), 14—29, 126—9 ( on pp. 138 — 44 he also 
gives the text and German translation of the fargment in Vat. syr. 144 ) . 
Abramowski's book as a whole gives a fine assessment of Dionysius* historical 
work and its importance , 

(16) Michael, Chronicle 

Undoubtedly the greatest of all Syriac chroncicles is that of the Syrian 
Orthodox patriarch Michael ( 1166 — 99) . Starting from creation this massive 
work in 21 books extends to 1194/5. Of the preface, listing his sources , we 
have only an Armenian summary, but much of the information it must have 
contained is incorporated into body of the chronicle . The following table , 
taken from Chabofs preface to his edition,(20) gives the main sources whom 
Michael claims to have used . 

Michael also cites numerous shorter documents and letters, many of 
which are not preserved elsewhere . 

The chronicle comes down to us in a single manuscript completed In 1598, 
preserved at Urfa ( Edessa J at the end of the last century ; from this two 
modern copies were made t one in 1887 for the future Syrian Catholic 
patriarch , Igntius Ephrem Rehmani , the other in 1899 for J. B. Chabot • It 
is the text of the 1899 copy which was published photographically by Chabot 

20- Chronique de Michel le Syrien, p. xxv. 



v\\ 



16 



f 






a 



IT 



o 



u U 



5 

• 



ii 



\ 

m 
m 

6 



o «*> 

a: 



if 



? 



9 



t: 



H hi 

• 






M 
] 


CrMtlon t« 


M 


IB 52J 


< 


AD 323-4)1 


*-t 




i 




M 




#H 




W 




• 




^ 




•-* 


A» 431-5*5 


M 




^1 




1 




H 




M 

• 


AD 5*5-5«2 


A, 




O 




X 

• 


AD 562-711 


w 




..A 




J< 




M 




-* 




-*j 




X 




•H 




• 


AD 711-642 


CD 




*< 




M 




M 




H 




»-4 


AD 842-1061 


M 




<s 




• 




3 

* 


AD 1091-1143 


-4 




i 




M 




3 


AD 1143-1195 






& 





17 V\ 



in his monumental edition, with French translation, notes and indices ( 1899- 
1924; reprinted 1963 in four volumes ). The Urfa manuscript had a few lacunae, 
and so the work is not quite complete . 

Two oriental translations are also available , one into Armenian, the other 
into Arabic . The Armenian version , made by the priest Ishok in 1248, is a 
work of abbreviation and far-reaching adaptation , rather than a direct 
translation (21) The 1871 Jerusalem edition of the Armenian text is superior to 
that of 1870 calso Jerusalem ) which contains a yet further reworked text There 
is a French translation by V. Langlois , Chronique de Michel le Grand , 
traduite pour la premiere fois sur la version armenienne du pretre Ishok 
( Venice 1866 ) ; an earlier partial translation by E. Dulaurier , in Journal 
Asiatique IV , 12 ( 1848 ). 281-334, and IV, 13 (1849), 315-76 , covers the years 
573 — 717 . 

The Arabic translation, of which five manuscripts are known, is of limited 
use in that it was clearly made from the Urfa manuscript of 1598, and contains 
the same la cunae . 

(17) Chronicle to the year 1234 

An anonymous writer of the first half of the thirteenth century has left 
an important world chronicle divided up into two parts , separating secular 
from ecclesiastical history ( a practice Gregory Abu'l Faraj was later to 
adopt ) . According to Rahmani , who first edited part of the chronicle, the 
author came from Edessa, and this view is adopted by Barsaum who calls his 
the Edess ene anoymo us; (22) Chabot, however, tnaintaind that he belonged 

21- Cp F. Haase, 'Die armenische Rezension der syrischen Chronik Michaels 
des Grossen', OC II. 5 (1915)). 60—82 , 271-64. On Michael's chronicle in 
general see H. Gelzer, Das Geschichts werk Mar Michael des Grossen \ 
in his Sextus Julius Africanus und die byzantinische Chronographie 
( Leipzig 1898 ) II. 431—58. and R. A. Guseinov, in Palestiniskij Sbornik 5 
(68) (1960) , 85—105 . 

22- Barsaum, p. 131/78 



v^ 18 



to the patraiarchal entourage and he went on to suggest that the work was 
composed at the famous monastery of Barsauma. The Edessene origin of the 
author is upheld by Fiey t who nevertheless does not rule out a subsequent 
connection with the monastery of Barsauma . 

The secular history continues to at least 1234 , while the ecclesiastical 
history ( which .despite its position , second f in the manuscript , was evidently 
written first ) stops at 1207 : in both cases the endings have been lost . Since 
the auther was in Jerusalem when it was taken by Salah ad Din in 1187, and 
had already written much of the work by 1204, it is unlikely that originally 
the chronicle continued many years bey ond 1234 . 

The author makes ample use of his predecessors ( some of whom he 
quotes by name J ( but the value of his work is enhanced by the fact that he 
is independent of Michael's Cchronicle, and instead makes his own use of 
some of the same sources . One important lost source which he mentions by 
name is the History of Edessa by Basil bar Shumana ( died 1171 ) . 

The unique manuscript of the fourteenth century t which was in private 
ownership in Istanbul at the beginning of the century, is not complete % and 
there are several large gaps , especially in the ecclesiastical history , which 
now opens with the sixth century . 

The beginning of the text was published by Ignatius Ephrem Rahmani, 
Chronicon civile et ecclesiasticum anonymi auctoris ( Charfet 1904) f while 
the complete work was published by J. B. Chabot C with the help of Ephrem 
Barsaum , later Syrian Orthodox patriarch ) in CSCO 81/36 and 82/37 ( the 
profane history covers volume I and pp. 1-241 of volume H, the ecclesiastical 
history vol . II, pp. 242-350 ) . Chabot provided a Latin translation for vol. I 
in CSCO 109/56 ( 1037) , whereas vol. II was translated into French by A. 
Abouna, with an introduction, notes and indices by J. M. Fiey t in CSCO 

354/154 ( 1974 )(23). 

— -- . _ _ ~ ...-■■ ...... -.___. _._. ._. — _ -- ^ 

23- Earlier partial translations are listed in Fiey's preface; cp also N . V . 
Pigulevkaya , Vizantiya i Iran na rubezhe VI i VII vekov ( Leningrad/ 
Moscow 1946) 252—89 . 



19 r . A 



(18) Gregory Abu'I Faraf. Chronicle ( secular and ecclesiastical ) 

Included in Gregory Abu'] Faraj's imposing literary output is a large 
historical work consisting of a secular chronography and an ecclesiastical 
history . Although largely dependent on Michael and other earlier chronclers, 
Gregory's compilations are differently arranged and retain their own value , 
especially of course . for the period by Michael . 

The secular chronography deals with pre - Christian and profane history 
up to and includnig his own life time . The work is divided into eleven 
sections entitled yubale or ' series ' . as follows : Ci) Patriarchs, (2) Judges . 
(3) Kings of the Hebrews, (4) Kings of the Chaldeans, (5) Kings of the Medes 
( just Darius ),<6) Kings of the Persians, (7) Kings of the Pagan Greeks , (8) 
Kings of the Romans i Augustus to Justin II ), (9) Kings of the Christian 
Greeks ( Tiberius to Heraclius ) , (10) Arab Kings ( up to 1258), (11) Hun 
Kings ( i. e. Mongols ). The tenth section occupies some two thirds the work 
as a whole . Gregory also provided an Arabic edition this work, entitled 
* Short History of Dynasties ' ; for this he made use of Muslim sources 
as well . 

The Syriac text is preserved in a number of manuscripts of which the 
oldest in Vat. syr. 166 ( before 1356/7 ) ; ; several of these contain the 
ecclesiastical history as well , The text of the secular chronicle was first edited 
in 1789 by Bruns and Kirsch , but this has been replaced by the superior 
editions of P. Bedjan, Gregorii Barhebraei Chronicon Syriacum ( Paris 1890), 
and E.A.W. Budge . The Chronography of Gregory Abu'I Faraj ( 2 volumes, 
London 1932 ) ; the latter is a photographic edition of Oxford, Hunt 52, and 
is accompanied by an English translation (24V The Arabic text was edited , 
with a Latin translation , by E. Pococke in 1663, and by A, Salhani in 1890 
( Beirut, with an index ) UO. 



24- With index . There is a Turkish translation of Budge's English . Abu'I 
Farac Tarihl ( Ankara 1945 ) . 

25- CP G. Graf, Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur ( Studi e 

Test! 133; 1947 ), II. pp. 274—5 . 



Y*V 20 



The second half of Gregory's historical work . dealing with ecclesiastical 
history . is itself divided into two parts . The first , which opens with a list of 
Old Testament high priests, is concerned with the patriarchs of Antioch, giving 
under each name an account of the chief ecclesiastical events of his 
patriarchate . The entries reach up to 1285, and about a quarter of the work 
is taken up with detailed accounts of events during the century previous to 
1285 . The second part is devoted to the catholicosate and maphrianate of the 
East . By continuing to list the line of catholici after the fifth-century schism 
Gregory has the distincation of being the only Syrian Orthodox church historian 
to have concerned himself with the affairs of the Church of the Eas t 
as well . 

The ecclesiastical history was finished in the year of his death (1288) , the 
final entry being devoted to the time of his own tenure of the maphrianate 
( 1264—1286 ).The work was continued by his brother Barsauma up to 1288 . 

The ecclesiastiacal history was sometimes transmitted by J. Abbeloos and 
chronicle , sometimes separately C26) . It was edited by J. Abbeloos and T. J. 
Lamy, Gregorii Barhebraei Chronicon Ecclesiasticum (3 volumes* 27), Lovain 
j 872 — 7 ), with a Latin translation ; the text is based on London Add. 7108 of 
the sixteenth century, with some variants from two slightly earlier manuscripts 
Cambridge Dd. 3 8 1 and Oxford Hunt 1 . 

(19) Continuators of Gregory 

Several anonymous works continuing on both parts of Gregory's chronicle 
survive : 

(a) A continuation of the secular history , from 1289 — 1297, is incorporated 
into Bedjan's edition of Gregory's Chronicon ( pp. 557-88). Bedjan conjectured 



26- Note that Mingana syr. 585 is copied from the printed edition : see my 
'Notes on some texts in the Mingana collection' . Journal of Semitic 
Studies 14 (1969) , 219—20 . 

27- Volumes 1 and 2 are Paginated continuously . 



21 y*\ 

that the author was Gregory's brother , Barsauma . 

(b) There are continuations of the ecclesiastical history up to 1495 and 
to 1582 .The former is included in Abbeloos and Lamy's edition of the Chronicon 
Ecclesiasticum (II-, 781—646; III, 467—85 ). while the latter ( in Florence , 
Med. Or . 118 ) is unpublished . Barsaum states (28)that he himself had 
compiled a continuation up to modern times . 

120) Anonymous historical texts of 14th / 15th century 

Four anonymous works are appended to the text of Gregory Abu'l FaraJ's 
Chronography in Oxford Hunt 52 and are reproduced in Budge's photographic 
edition ( with an English translation in vol. II, pp. xxvi - liii ) 

(a) The murder of Nawruz . 

(b) The expedition of the Huns, Persians and Mongols in the province in 
Diyarbekir , covering AD 1394 — 1402 . 

(c) The ravages of Timur khan in Tur Abdin, 1395—1403 . 

(d) Part of a chronicle covering 1394 — 1493(29). 

According to Ephrem Barsaum(30) the compilers of these works were the 
priests Esha'ya and Addai of Basabrina . 

EAST SYRIAN WRITERS 

(21) Barhadbeshabba of Beth Arbaye, Ecclesiastical History 



Although * Ecclesiastical history ' is the title given by the editor ( following 
' Abdisho ' ) , the heading of the work itself describes the contents as a series 
of * Histories of the' holy fathers who were persecuted for the sake of the truth 



28- Barsaum, p. 132/180 . 

29- The last three texts were edited earlier by Bruns in 1790 ; (d) is also to be 
found in Vat. syr. 167, with two other short , as yet unpublished , texts 
(on Hatem, king of Cilicia, 1296 ; and the sack of Amid , 1317) . 

30- Barsaum , p. 131/179 . 



V»o 22 



The author, who must belong to the late sixth century, is called ' Mar 
Barhadbeshabba, priest and head bedoqa of the holy school in Nisibis : 
It is uncertain whether or not this Barhadbeshabba is to be distinguished from 
Barhadbeshabba bishop of Halwan, anthor of the ' Book of the foundations of 
the Schools' ( ed . Scher , PO 4) . 

The ecclesiastical history , consisting of 32 biographical entries covering the 
third to sixth centuries ( ending with Narsai and Abraham ), is preserved in 
a single manuscript, London Or. 6714, ff. 101 - 78 , of the ninth/tenth century . 
It was edited ,with a French translation, by F. Nau in PO 9, pp. 490— 630 
( Introduction ; chapters 19—32 ) and PO 23 , pp. 177—343 ( chapters l — 18. 
Mid Syriac index tn the whole work )C31) . 

(22) History of Karka d-Beth Slokh 

Although this work is largely concerned with the local martyrs of this 
town ( modern kerkuk ) , the fact that it is arranged chronologically allows 
its inclusion here . The history consists essentially of three elements : 

(a) the early history and its refounding by Seleucus; 

(b) the origins of Christianity there and the persecution of Shapur II; 

(c) the persecution of Yazdgard II in 445. 

The last section is proportionally the longest and most detailed . Although 
P. Peeters had held the historical value of the work to be very low, more 
recently J. M. Fiey has suggested that a rehabilitation is in order ( see 
Analecta Bollandiana 82 (1964) , 189-222) . 

The works is preserved in a seventh /eighth century manuscript (Diyarbekir 
chald. 96) and two late nineteenth century copies . The text was first 
published by Moesinger in vol. 2 of his Monumenta Syriaca, and then again 

31- On Barhadbeshabba, see A. Voobus , History of the School of Nisibis 

—. — .. . . — - — »—» 

(CSCO 266; 1965 ), 280—2. For chapters 17 , 19—30, see L. Abramowski, 
Untersuchungen zum Liber Heraclidis des Nestorius(CSCO 242;,1963 ) , 
33—103 . 



23 V-i 

by P. Bedjan in Acta Martyrum et Sanctorum 2 (1891) 507—35 , using the 
Diyarbekir manuscript . There is a German translation by G. Hoffmann in 
his Auszuge aus syrischen Akten persischer Martyrer ( Leipzig 1880 ) ,43—60, 
and a French summary by Fiey in Analecta Bollandiana 82 . 

(23) Chronicle of Arbela 



The anonymous work covering the history of Christianity in Adiabene 
from the beginnings to the mid sixth century , generally known as the 
Chronicle of Arbela ( attributed by its editor to Meshihazkha, is a problematic 
text, of dubious credentials. Since the chronicle could potentially be important 
it will be necessary to examine the case in a little detail . 

When the text was first published by A. Mingana ( with French translation 
and index ) his Sources Syriaques I ( Leipzig 1907) , pp. 1-168 4t was widely 
greeted by eminent scholars such as Sachau as an important and basically 
reliable source for the otherwise obscure early history of Christianity in 
Adiabene. Subsequent study by P. Peeters{32) I. Ortiz de Urbina(33) and others, 
however, cast some doubts on its historical reliability , but more recently the 
good faith of its editor Mingana has also been called into question . Mingana 
had attributed the chronicle to the sixth-century writer Meshihazkha , whose 
work was otherwist lost , pointing to a marginal note giving his name . I n 
1941 , however, Voste disclosed that the name Meshihazkha had actually been 
added to the manuscript by a local scribeat Mingana's own request (34) .Twenty 
five years later J . Assfalg examined the only known 

manuscript ( Berlin , Ms. or .. fol . 3126) and found that the hand, although 

32- RPeeters, *Le Passionaire d'Adiabene \ Analecta Bollandiana 43 (1925), 
261— 304 . 

33- I. Ortiz de Urbina, Tntorno al valore storico della Cronaca di Arbela ' 
OCP 2 ( 1936) , 5—32 . 

34- J. M Voste, ' Alphonse Mingana', OCP 7 (1941) , 514—8 ( sep. 517). Fiex 
later identified the scribe ; see note 36 . 



r«v 24 



estrangelo, was a modern one and not a tenth-century one as Mingana's 
introduction suggested^) what is more . the printed text did not always 
correspond to the manuscript, and for one page there was no maunscript 
basis at all. The following year, in 1967, J. M. Fiey put forward the suggestion 
that the entire work was the product of Mingana himself.(3ft) although he was 
not able to bring forward conclusive evidence ( such as the use of nineteenth- 
century European works of church history ) that this must have been so; rather 
Fiey pointed to two other works edited by Mingana, whose authenticity had 
been questioned by other scholars during Mingana's own lifetime. Since , 
however , it turns out that these accusations were not JustifledCnJ, Fiey's case 
by insinuation is weakened , and the question must for the moment remain 
Open . 

Whatever the date of the chronicle's compsition, it is now generally 
agreed that the very full account of the early Christian history of Arbela Is 
totally unreliable, seeing that it finds no support from better sources of local 
history, such as the martyr acts . What is not certain, however, is whether 
this Judgement applies to the rest of the work; here it Is interesting to note 
that scholars whose primary interest is in Zoroastrianlsm and Sasanlan 
history have usually held the work in higher repute (38) it is not so likely that 
a modern forger would have been able to produce seemingly reliable 
information on such subjects . 

35- J. Assfalg ,' Zur Textuberlieferung der Chronlk von Arbela', OC 50 (1068) 
19—36 . There is a photograph of the page with the added name of 
Meshihazkha in Assfalg's Syrische Handschrif-ten ( Verzeichnls der 
orientalischen Handschiften in Deut-schland v; 1963), plate III. 

36- J.M.-Fiey, 'Auteur et date de la Chronique d'Arbeles*. L'Orient Syrlen 12 
(1967), 265—302 . Earlier ( Analecta Bollandiana 82 (1964), 218) Fiey had 
spoken of Tauteur tardif ( xvle siecle ? )', 

37- Sss my 'Alphonse Mingana and the Letter of Philoxenus to Abu ' Afr \ 
Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 50(1967) , 199—208 . 

38- £. g. G. Messina , Orientalia 8 (1937) ,234—44 . 



25 ft 



Clearly more critical work needs to be done on the chronicle itself before 
any parts of it can safely be used for historical purposes . 

Besides Mingana's French translation in Sources Syriaques there is a 
German one by E. Sachau in the Abhandlungen der Koniglich- Pr eussischen 
Akademie der Wissenschaften . Phil. - hist. Klasse 1915, 6., and a Latin by F. 
Zorell in Orientalla Christiana 8 ( 1927) , 144—204(39) . 

(24) Anonymous Chronicle 

One of the most important East Syrian historical works is the Anonymous 
Chronicle , covering the last half century or so of Sasanid rule , known 
sometimes as * Guidi's Chronicle * ( after its editor ) or the ' khuzistan 
Chronicle ' ( after its probable place of origin) . It was probably composed 
c. 670—680 . 

The work is preserved in Notre Dame de Semences ( Alqosh ) 169 ( now 
in Baghdad ), of the fourteenth century ; from this manuscript a number of 
modern copies in European libraries were taken : Borg. syr. 82 (1891) , Vat. 
syr. 599 ( 1871) , Mingana syr. 47 (1907) and 586 (1932) . Guidi's edition in 
Chronica Minora I (= CSCO l/l, pp. 15—39; Latin translation in CSCO 2/2, 
pp. 13 — 32 ) was based on Borg. syr. 82. Some of the more important variants 
to be found in the two Mingana manuscripts are listed in my ' Notes on some 
texts in the Mingana Collection*. Journal of Semitic Studies 14 (1969) , p.22l. 
A new edition of the text, making use of the Alqosh manuscript and edited 
by P. Haddad ( with Arabic translation, notes and indices ), has recently 
been published by the Syriac Academy ( Baghdad 1976) . There is a German 
translation, with an important historical commentary , by T. Noldeke 
Sitzungs berichte der kais. Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien , Phil . 
hist . Kl. 128, 9; 1893) and a Russian one , also with commentary, by N. 
Pigulevskaya in Zapiski Instituta Vostok. Akad . Nauk. 7 (1939), 55—78. 

39* For further secondray litrature on the Chronicle of Arbela , see Ortiz de 
UrbLna, Patrologia Syriaca, 210—11. 



x*\ 



(25) John of Phenek Resh Melle 



26 



John of Phenek, a monk from the monastery of Mar Yohannan of Kamul 
living at the end of the seventh century, was the author of a theologically 
orientated world history entitled Ktaba d-resh melle . in fifteen books . The 
work , addressed to a certain Sabrisho, ' covers the following topics : book I. 
Hexaemeron and history of the world up to the Hood; H. Flood to Exile : m , 
Return from Exile to the Maccabean martyrs ; IV - DC . theological and 
exegetical, rather than historical, in character ; IX . on pagan religions ; X-XI, 
life of Christ; XII, Ascension to destruction of the Temple (70) ; XIII. mission 
of the apostles; XIV ; death of the apostles to the Arab Invasions ; XV , 
seventh century .. 

T. Jansma (40) lists twelve late nineteenth or early twentieth century 
manuscripts of the work which he considers were probably all descended from 
a lost manuscript of 1262 written at Tabriz ; there are two further incomplete 
manuscripts of uncertain derivation. So for only books X-XV , covering the 
first to the end of the seventh centuries AD , have printed. In Mlngana's 
Sources Syriaques I, pp. 2* — 171* , with a French translation of book XV 
only ( pp. 172*— 203* . with idex ) . A German translation of extracts from 
the end of book XIV will be found in Abramowski's Dionysius von Tellmaher. 
pp. 5—8 . Of the earlier books only an extract from book IX, on 
Zoroastrianism , has been published , with French translation, by J. de 
Mesnasce in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 9 (1037/0). 
587—601 (incorporated by R. Zaehner into his Zurvan ( Oxford 1055 ), 419—20). 

(26) Ella ( Elijah ) of Nistbis , Chronography 

The only East Syrian chronological work conceived on a large scale to 

40- T. Jansma , 'Projet d'edltion du ktaba d-resh melle, de Jean bar Penkaye', 
L'Orient Syrien 8 (1063) , 87—106, where references to earlier literature 
will be found. (It is unclear whether resh melle * summary * here . 
or whether it is a caique on Greek archaiologia ) . 



27 



have survived Is the Chronography by Ella, metropolitan of Nisibis (1008-46 >. 
This bilingual ( Syriac and Arabic) compilation is in two parts, the first 
consisting of various chronological tables followed by a list of notable events 
arranged by year ( often listing the name of the source of information )and 
covering AD 25 - 1018 ( the beginning is missing . and there are lacunae for the 
years 785 — 878 and 072—004 1 . The second part is devoted to elaborate 
calendrical tables . 

The work is preserved, not quite complete, in London Add. 7107, of AD 
1018 , parts of which are probably in the author's own hand . The complete 
Syriac text has been edited by Brooks and Chabot in CSCO 62/21—22 ( with 
Latin translation in CSC063/23 — «) . There is a French translation by L . 
Delaporte, Chronographie de Mar Elie bar Shinaya, metropolite de Nisibe 
( Paris 1010 ) . with an index of names . A German translation ( together 
with Syriac and Arabic text ) of the list of historical events for AD 822—1018 
( correpsonding to pp. 126—228 of Brooks* edition is to be found in F. Baethgen, 
Fragmente syrischer und arabischer Historiker ( Leipzig 1884 ) ; this too has 
an index of namesUl). 

<27) Fragment of ecclesiastical history 

Vat. syr. 170, ft 104 — in. of 1703 contains an excerpt covering the 
ecclesiastical history of the fourth and early fifth century ; the compiler , 
however, probably belonged to the eleventh century or later. 

The text was first edited by E, Goeller in Oriens Christaianus 1 ( 1901 ). 
80—07, with a Latin translation ; it was subsequently reedited by Chabot in 
Chronica Minora III (= CSCO 5/5 , pp. 371—8; Latin translation in CSCO 6/6, 
pp. 207—304 ). 

By way of conclusion it may be helpful to give a synoptic view of the 
periods covered by our various historical texts . In the table which follows 

41- Cp D. Serruys , 'Les canons d'Eusebe , d'Annianos et d'Andronicos d'apres 
Elie de Nisibe \ Byzantinische Zeitschrift 22 (1013), 1—36 An arable 
translation : J. Habbi, Syriac Academy, Baghdad , 1075 . 



TW 28 



the numbers refer to the different sources described above ; in recapitulation 
these are : 

( West Syrian ) 

1 = Chronicle of Edessa 

2 ■ = Ps. Zacharias Rhetor , Ecclesiastical History 

3 = John of Ephesus . Ecclesiastical History 

4 = Melkite Chronicle 
■5 = Maronite Chronicle 

6 = Jacob of Edessa, Chronical 

•7 = Historical notices for 712—718 

8 = Chronical to the year 724 

9 = Excerpts concerning the years 501—6, 763/4 

10 = Chronical to the year 775 

11 = The Zuqnin Chronical 

12 = Chronicale to the year 813 

13 — Chronicale to the year 819 

14 = Chronicle to the year 846 

15 = Dionysius of Tellmahre , Ecclesiastical History 

16 = Michael , Chronicle 

17 = Chronicle to the year 1234 

18 = Gregory Abu*l Fara), Chronicle ( secular and ecclesiastical ) 

19 = Continuators of Gregory 

20 = Anonymous historical texts of the 14th/15th centuries 

C East Syrian ) 

21 = Barhadbeshabba . Ecclesiastical History 

22 = History of karka d-Beth Slokh 

23 = Chronicle of Arbela 

24 = Anonymous Chronicle 

25 John of Phenek, Resh Melle 

26 = Elia of Nisibis , Chronography 

27 = Fragment of ecclesiastical history . 



29 



m 



An asterisk after a number in the following table indicates that the 
material in that source is either very brief or only partially preserved . 

Creation - Al exander : 4* 8* 10 li 14 ie 17 18 25 . 

3rd - 1st century BC : l * 4*5 8* 10 11 14 16 17 18 25 . 

1st — 3rd century AD : 1 4* 5 8* 10 11 13* 14 16 17 18 22 23 25 26. 

4th - 5th century AD ; 1 2 4* 5* 6*8* 10* 11 13* 14 16 17 18 21 22 23 25 26 27*. 

6th century AD : 1 2 3 4 6 * 8* 9* 10* 11 13 14* 15* 16 17 18 21 23 24 25 26 . 

7th - century AD S » 6 * 8 10 * 11 » 13 14 18 17 18 24 25 26 

8th - early 9th cent. AD : 7 8 9 * 10* 11* 12 13 14* 15* 16 17 

mid 9th — 13th cent. AD : 16 17 18 26 (42) 

14th - isth century AD : 19 20 . 

Finally I list, in chronological order , some secondary literature of a more 
general charachter which is concerned Syriac historical texts : 
A. Wirth, Aus orientalischen Chroniken ( Frankfurt 1890X43). 

E. W. Brooks , The sources of Theophanes and the Syriac chronicles ' 

Byzantinische Zeitschrift 15 ( 1906) , 578-87 . ( Mainly on a source common 
to the 846 chronicle and the Greek chronicler Theophanes ) . 
R. Duval , La litterature syriaque ( 3rd edition; Paris 1907), 177 — 205 . 

F. Haase, Altchristllche Kirchengeschic hte nach orientalischen Quellen 
(Leipzig 1925 ), 6-24 . ( Survey of Syriac historical sources ; it should be noted 
that the references are not always accurate ) . 

N. V. Pigulevskaya , Siniskie Istocniki po istorii narodov SSR ( Moscow / 
Leningrad 1941 ) . 

— . Vizantiya i Iran na rubezhe VI i VII vekov ( Moscow/ Leningrad 1946), 
30 — 19 . ( Survey of Syriac sources ) . 

I. E. Barsaum, Kitab al lu' lu al mantur ... 126—37/173—89 . 

R. A. Guseinov, Siriiskie istocniki XII-XII w. ob Azerbaidzhane ( Baku 1960). 



42- To I0l8^only . 

43- Sss Krumbacher's critical review in Byzantinische Zeitschrift 3 ( 1894 . 
607—25 . 



T<W 30 



J. B. Segal, • Syriac chronicles as source material for the history of Islamic 

peoples* , in Historians of the Middle East ( ed. B. Lewis and P.M. Holt ; 

London 1962) , 246—58. 
R.A. Guseinov, ' Les sources syriaques des XII et XIII siecles concernant 

l'Azerbaidjan ', Bedi Karthlisa ( Paris ) 15/6 (1963) , 78—81 . 
I. Ortiz de Urbina, Patrologia Syriaca (2nd edition; Rome 1965) .206-12,220-23 • 
E. Degen, 'Daniel bar Maryam . Ein nestorianische Kirchenhistoriker*. OC 52 

( 1968) , 45—80 . 
J.M. Fiey, Jalons pour une histoire de l'eglise en Iraq (CSCO 310 ; 1970) , 8-31. 

( Critical survey of sources ) . 
A.S. Proudfoot, ' The sources of Theophanes for the Heraclian dynasty ' , 
Byzantion 44 ( 1974) , 367—439 . ) Includes some references to Syriac 

chronicles ) . 
S. P. Brook, 'Syriac sources for seventh-century history '. Byrantine and 

Modern Greek Studies 2 (1976) , 17—36 .